In 1993, when colour television was only a decade old, director Ramanand Sagar invited Lord Krishna into our living rooms. And his interpretation, on every Sunday, would begin with a profound, full-throated call to the flute god along with soft bell gongs. The raga was Yaman — not many were familiar with the name but a “matured voice as if it knew the stories about to be told” swirled out of the television sets. And as composer and singer Ravindra Jain crooned this title song for a TV series, many with folded hands bowed in front of their bulky TV sets while a hazy image of Krishna flashed on the screen.
Jain’s music in Sagar’s previous venture, Ramayana, had already found much appreciation with a TV-viewing India, while his iconic film tracks such as Akhiyon Ke Jharokhe Se, Geet gata chal, Gori tera gaon, Chithi ae, Le jayenge dilwale dulhaniya, Jab deep jale aana and numerous others were always remembered with much fondness.
Jain, the blind maverick whose command over devotional music and film music is considered “matchless”, died at the Lilavati Hospital on Friday evening after a multiple-organ failure. He was 71. He is survived by his wife and poet Divya Jain and son Ayushmaan. Jain was in Nagpur for a concert when he fell sick and was admitted to Wockhardt Hospital. After his condition deteriorated, he was airlifted on Wednesday.
The cremation will take place at the Santa Cruz crematorium Saturday evening. Before that his body will be kept at singer Suresh Wadkar’s house in Ajivasan Building, for musicians and fans to pay their last respects.
Jain’s contemporary and music composer Usha Khanna told The Indian Express, “Every piece he created for Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana or Krishna felt as if that is the only way it could have been composed. One can’t imagine any other tune to create such an impact. These were serials that remain extremely close to people’s hearts and the music played such an important role there. As for the films, the scores of Akhiyon Ke Jharokhe Se and Ram Teri Ganga Maili are absolutely iconic. There will be no other Ravindra Jain ever again.”
Singer Malini Awasthi, who had been learning music from Jain and used to sing at his concerts, said it is not just his compositions but also the poetry that was extraordinary. “He was special. Not because he was blind but because he had the talents of a lyricist as well as a composer. What was amazing was that we jot down every little detail in our diaries and he remembered everything he wrote and composed. It was brilliant,” she said.
Jain’s brother and producer Mahender Jain said his last project was translation of the Quran. “It’s so hard to remember even one aayat from the Quran but he, in a 22-year-long project, not only remembered but understood everything. He said the idea was that everyone — Hindus and Muslims — should understand the meaning in the holy book,” he said.